High 5: Reasons to book through a tour operator
One – it saves precious time
Most of us don’t have the time to trawl dozens of websites, booking the varying aspects of a holiday – from flights, car hire and accommodation, to transfers, activities and local excursions. Much time can also be spent reading unsubstantiated online reviews to make sure we are booking the right thing, and if anything goes wrong (a ferry or flight is delayed, a hotel doesn’t have a record of your booking and so on), it’s down to you to sort it out in a country where you most likely don’t speak the language. Tour operators have a wealth of experience when it comes to arranging complicated, tailormade itineraries and will also take full responsibility for re-arranging all aspects of your itinerary should something go awry – importantly at their cost, not yours.
Two – you benefit from first-hand knowledge and expertise
Not many of us can profess to knowing much about the country we intend to visit on holiday. That is often the reason why we want to go and see it for ourselves! Tour operators are experts in the destinations they feature, and staff have often lived or travelled there extensively. They’ll have first-hand and in-depth knowledge of the hotels, excursions, restaurants, driving conditions, local customs, events and foibles in the destinations they feature and are on hand to advise over the phone. Many operators also have representatives in resort, meaning you can seek advice as and when you need it during your holiday.
Three – you get what it says on the tin
Tour operators are legally obliged to describe accurately the properties they offer and to inform clients of any nearby building works which could disturb the enjoyment of a holiday. Photographs should not mislead the customer and the operator generally gives a third-party view. An individual owner promoting a property on an online booking platform has no obligation to inform anyone of the state of the surroundings or whether building work is taking place. The property description is generally based on how the owner views the accommodation, so it’s not always reliable.
Four – your money is fully protected
Why do so many people take a gamble on their most precious time of year – those few weeks that they get to kick back, spend quality time with their family or set off on the trip of a lifetime? With a tour operator, you are entitled to a refund or repatriation should your travel company go out of business. Book independently and you’re on your own – you’ll simply have no option but to pay again for you holiday.
Five – it can often save you money
Contrary to popular belief, it is often less expensive to book through a tour operator. Established tour operators have long-standing relationships with their partners and are likely to get preferential treatment when it comes to special offers and the best rates. Some operators buy flights in advance and in bulk, which means cheaper rates and no surcharges if the exchange rate, tax or world oil price rockets. By booking with an operator, you’re more likely to get better rooms than if you book as an individual, too.
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When I first started out travel writing, twenty years ago, I was writing a weekly round-up for The Independent. The first PR agency I ever tapped into for their clients' holiday ideas was Travel PR; they were always full of great suggestions for the column and responded quickly. Over the years, I've worked with them on many occasions and their close association with AITO has always paid dividends. Nothing has changed; some of the best story ideas I get herald from them, and their response time remains very speedy. They are a pleasure to work with.Mark Stratton, Freelance Travel Writer
Travel PR, established 25 years ago, is a leading specialist PR and communications agency specialising in the travel, hotel and lifestyle markets. Want to create a PR strategy for your brand?